In recent months, the cannabis industry in New York has faced numerous challenges and setbacks. As the state works to establish a safe and legal market for adult-use cannabis, delays in regulations, lawsuits, and logistical issues have caused considerable strain for licensed cannabis farmers. These farmers face financial ruin with limited places to sell their crops.
In response to this pressing issue, a group of New York lawmakers have sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul, urging her to sign the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act. This legislation would provide struggling farmers another outlet to sell their products, potentially saving them from financial disaster.
New York’s Cannabis Industry
New York’s cannabis industry has faced numerous challenges since the state legalized adult-use cannabis. As regulations and licensing processes have been delayed, licensed farmers have been left with a surplus of unsold crops. With only 23 dispensaries currently open statewide, these products have limited demand.
This has caused significant strain on cannabis farmers, who may have taken out loans or leveraged their assets to invest in their crops. Without an alternate market, these farmers are facing potential financial ruin.
Moreover, the issues faced by cannabis farmers have a ripple effect on the local economy. With limited product demand, farmers may be forced to lay off employees or shut down operations altogether. This could also impact other businesses in the industry, such as manufacturers and distributors.
Letter Urging Gov Hochul to Sign The Cannabis Crop Rescue Act
The New York lawmakers who sent the letter to Governor Hochul are urging her to sign the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act immediately. This legislation would allow cannabis farmers to sell their products to Tribal dispensaries, providing them an alternate market and potentially saving their livelihoods.
In their letter, the lawmakers highlight the urgency of this issue, stating that “Right now, there are over 200 cannabis farmers trying to sell their crops, but only 23 dispensaries open statewide. This has resulted in more than 250,000 pounds of unsold cannabis. Farmers who took out loans and leveraged all their assets to cultivate these crops are demoralized and facing financial disaster unless we act quickly to provide them with an alternate market.”
The lawmakers believe allowing companies to sell to the New York Tribal Nations is a short-term fix but could be immensely helpful for the struggling farmers. The letter states, “Allowing these farmers to sell their cannabis to purchasing agents from New York’s Tribal Nations can be a short-term solution. These Tribal dispensaries would benefit from access to a source of local, safe, laboratory-tested products. Farmers would benefit from a new pathway to sell their products.”
The letter further emphasizes the importance of supporting these farmers, stating, “Along with the Cannabis Grower’s Showcases, it could be the financial lifeline they need right now. New York’s cannabis farmers, who went out on a limb to help get the state’s legal market off the ground, should not be facing financial ruin because of regulatory delays. We should be giving them every possible opportunity to stay afloat while they await the development of the market they were promised.”
The letter comes two weeks after legislators called the current situation of New York cannabis an ‘agricultural emergency’ which is why the leaders of the Agriculture Committees in the Senate and Assembly, Senate Chair Michelle Hinchey and Ranking Member George Borrello, and Assembly Chair Donna Lupardo and Ranking Member Chris Tague are leading the charge in urging Gov. Hochul to sign the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act (S.7295A/A.7375A) saying.
Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey said, “Many New York cannabis farmers are facing dire financial straits with unsold crops from last year, and time is running out to get products to market before they expire. The Cannabis Crop Rescue Act is a vital short-term solution that needs action now, and we’re grateful to have the support of a bipartisan coalition of state legislators calling for its immediate enactment into law.”
Senate Agriculture Ranking Member George Borrello said, “The state’s failure to establish the legal market it promised has had consequences that have fallen the heaviest on cannabis farmers, the group that can least afford them. The farmers who leveraged all their assets to cultivate these crops are facing financial disaster without intervention by the state. Every week that passes makes their situation more desperate. While signing this bill into law is not a total solution, it will provide some immediate relief and let these farmers know that they aren’t forgotten.”
Assembly Agriculture Chair Donna Lupardo said, “We owe a debt to our cannabis farmers, who once again took a risk to grow this crop. Many NY farmers are distressed for a number of reasons, but none more than this group. Opening a one-time window for sales to Tribal Nations will provide some financial relief, while we are working on others means of recompense. There really is no time to waste, as this crop is degrading the longer it goes unsold.”
Assembly Ranking Member Chris Tague said, “We have many cannabis farmers who have made huge investments expecting support and are now experiencing detrimental losses. Many of these farmers are going out of business due to the lack of a market, by no fault of their own. This has become an agricultural emergency that has cost farmers thousands of dollars. While I was not an early supporter of this initiative, I will always be a supporter of our farmers, regardless of the crops they raise, and I call on Governor Hochul to sign this bill immediately into law.”
While the rollout of cannabis licenses in New York may have faced numerous setbacks and delays, it is heartening to see lawmakers still support smaller farmers in the state. The Cannabis Crop Rescue Act and events like the Cannabis Growers Showcase provide much-needed relief and recognition for these struggling farmers who took risks in entering the legal cannabis market.
Amidst the push for larger MSOs to enter the industry, it is important not to forget about the smaller farmers essential in creating a diverse and sustainable cannabis market. We can only hope that with continued efforts and support from lawmakers, these farmers will be able to thrive in New York’s growing cannabis industry.